For me, 2020 will go down as the year that I hardly visited locations from my bucket list, but did lots and lots of Dutch day trips instead. Zaanse Schans is an activity that belongs in the list of Keukenhof, Giethoorn, Volendam and Kinderdijk. These are locations that hardly cross my mind when planning a trip, so I had not done too many of these trips before 2020. You have to keep yourself entertained in times of crisis, so I decided to make a day trip to Zaandam and Zaanse Schans with my mother.
You know I love to visit locations with colorful houses and often complain that there is not enough color in The Netherlands. Over the past few months I have challenged myself to find beautiful photo locations near my home, so I will have enough material to improve my photo editing skills. This mostly resulted in doing photoshoots in pretty dresses underneath cherry blossom trees, providing strange entertainment for people enjoying their evening walks. After a while, I really started to miss colorful houses so I went on a google search to find colorful houses in The Netherlands. I ended up finding the Inntel Hotel in Zaandam, which consists of many small houses that are stacked upon each other. Zaandam is really close to Amsterdam & Zaanse Schans, one of the touristy highlights of The Netherlands.
I am still avoiding public transport, so my mother and I made the day trip by car. It was really easy to find parking spaces in the center of Zaandam close to the Inntel hotel. A funny detail regarding the design of the hotel is that on top of the hotel, one of the houses is blue, instead of green. This is inspired by a painting of a blue house that Monet has made, when he stayed in the Zaandam area (Zaanstreek).
The interesting design of the Inntel hotel was part of a large restructuring of the city center of Zaandam. A large part of the center has received a “facelift” and features buildings that are inspired by the historic Zaanse architecture. This part of the city center definitely makes for a fun walk!
While in Zaandam, we were recommended a little Monet museum. Zaandam is deservingly proud that Monet has painted several buildings and landscapes in the are during his Dutch period and created this little museum with some replicas. The museum is free to visit and they show a short movie about Monet’s Dutch period. After our visit we did a short walk through the city as some of the buildings Monet painted are still existing today (such as the blue house).
Zaanse Schans is a place so touristy, that I normally wouldn’t visit, but the pandemic was perfect to enjoy this “open air museum” in peace and quiet. My mother and I decided to visit it outside of the weekend, just to be absolutely sure that there wouldn’t be too many people. Zaanse Schans was formed to protect the heritage of this area (the Zaanstreek). Between 1961 and 1974 many buildings and windmills were transferred to this neighborhood and they now make up Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is a tourist attraction, but as it is a neighborhood, people actually live here. There is no entrance fee, but you can park your car on the official parking lot for € 15 per day, the revenues will be used to maintain Zaanse Schans. I found Zaanse Schans a bit of a mix between a museum and a theme park. On one hand, you can actually learn about the history of crafts such as making cheese, baking bread and woodcarving clogs. On the other hand, it is heavily commercial, with a photographer snapping your picture with the windmills in the background and lots of “exit through the (overpriced) giftshop” moments.
All in all, we spent about 1,5 hours walking around and admiring the old buildings. The windmills were beautifully maintained and looked amazing in their surroundings. I hope that foreign tourists understand that Zaanse Schans can be seen as a museum and that it is not an accurate depiction of The Netherlands. Dutch people usually don’t walk around looking like Johannes Vermeer’s Milk Maid, don’t wear clogs in daily life and not everybody knows how to make cheese.
4 Comments on “THE ULTIMATE DUTCH DAY TRIP: ZAANDAM & ZAANSE SCHANS”
Ja mooi daar hè….kleurrijk…gr.
Ja er blijken gelukkig wel kleurrijke plekjes in Nederland te zijn 🙂
Was leuk op naar volgend uitje
Hopelijk gaat Parijs door 🙂